Category Archives: Mi’kmaq

Ethan Hawke helps Mi’kmaq oppose Gulf of St. Lawrence oil exploration ~ CBC

October 27th, 2015

Hawke says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected

CBC News
Posted: Oct 26, 2015 12:01 PM AT
Last Updated: Oct 27, 2015 7:30 PM AT

Four-time Academy Award nominee and part-time Nova Scotia resident Ethan Hawke spoke out Monday about the need to protect the “beautiful water” of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration.

Hawke was a special guest of an event in Afton in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, organized by the leadership of four First Nations groups from Nova Scotia and Quebec: the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations.

The event included a water ceremony, followed by a press conference.

Hakwe was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours. He’s owned property in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish for 15 years and has been coming to the province for two decades.

“My family settled in Texas at the turn of the last century and if you’ve seen the water outside Galveston, you would weep. You would really weep,” said Hawke.

Chief PJ Prosper of Paq'tnkek and Ethan Hawke (Credit: CBC)

Chief PJ Prosper of Paq’tnkek and Ethan Hawke (Credit: CBC)

‘I trust their judgment’

He says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected.

“They’ve earned that right, not just by inhabiting these lands for thousands of years, but for the way they’ve cared for that land and the water,” said Hawke.

“I trust their judgment for what is best for this area, for the Earth, the land the people and the water.”

Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, says First Nations groups and organizations like the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition have been working for years to raise awareness and Hawke’s name brings new attention to their concerns.

Save Our Seas and Shores members Mark Butler (L) and Ron Kelly (R) (Credit: Stephen Puddicombe CBC)

Save Our Seas and Shores members Mark Butler (L) and Ron Kelly (R) (Credit: Stephen Puddicombe CBC)

“Water, it affects everybody. It doesn’t just affect First Nations people,” said Jerome.

Hawke agreed his name can help lend some star power to the cause.

“The one thing I can do as the one actor in the community is to blab a little bit and to sit next to really intelligent, dedicated people who are working extremely hard to protect this beautiful water,” he said.

Ethan Hawke, who owns land in the St. George's Bay area near Antigonish, is lending his star power to a group of Mi'kmaq protesters who are calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

Ethan Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, is lending his star power to a group of Mi’kmaq protesters who are calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

‘Now it’s their time to step up’

The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review and environmental assessment.

The group says the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is considering plans for drilling at a site known as Old Harry, which is located midway between Quebec’s Magdalen Islands and Cape Anguille in western Newfoundland.​

Jerome hopes the election of the federal Liberals will mean more co-operation from government, which is a promise Liberal candidates were making at doorsteps, he says.

“This will be one of the first tests that they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now and now that they’re the new government, now it’s their time to step up to the plate,” said Jerome.

He hopes the news coverage from Monday’s event will encourage Canadians to contact their MPs to talk about drilling.

Source: CBC News

Share Button

Ethan Hawke adds voice to no-drill plea ~ Chronicle Herald

October 27th, 2015

AARON BESWICK Truro Bureau TRURO BUREAU
Published October 26, 2015 – 8:12pm
Last Updated October 26, 2015 – 8:49pm

Hollywood star appears with natives opposing exploration in Gulf

 Mi’kmaq elders Robert Pictou and Roseanne Martin perform a traditional water ceremony on Monday afternoon in Antigonish County. They are joined by actor Ethan Hawke. (AARON BESWICK / Truro Bureau)

Mi’kmaq elders Robert Pictou and Roseanne Martin perform a traditional water ceremony on Monday afternoon in Antigonish County. They are joined by actor Ethan Hawke. (AARON BESWICK / Truro Bureau)

When Hollywood came to Antigonish County on Monday, the media followed.

Asked what bearing actor Ethan Hawke’s opinion had on potential exploratory drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mary Gorman was quick with a response.

“The difference is that you’re here,” the co-founder of Save Our Seas and Shores told the many media outlets gathered.

Gorman joined Mi’kmaq leaders and the celebrated actor on Monday morning in Antigonish County to once again call for a 12-year moratorium on exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The call was made after a traditional Mi’kmaq water ceremony was held near the spot on Pomquet Harbour where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for catching and selling eels in 1993. Marshall’s appeals of those charges eventually brought him before the Supreme Court of Canada — which reached the landmark ruling that the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples have a right to make a “moderate livelihood” off the fishery.

Paqtnkek First Nation chief Paul Prosper and Scott Martin, chief of the Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, said at the ceremony that their people’s right to make a moderate livelihood from the sea could be threatened by oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“We demand that the race to drill in the Gulf be stopped,” said Martin.

“No drilling without proper assessment. The social good, the Atlantic fisheries, our economy, our way of life and the life of this ecosystem must take precedence over oil.”

Corridor Resources of Halifax has the only current application in to do exploratory drilling in the Gulf. It has exploration licences for an underwater area known as Old Harry about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland’s south coast.

It is seeking environmental approval to drill one exploration well.

Energy Department spokeswoman Sarah Levy MacLeod said Monday that if any drilling were planned for the small area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence that Nova Scotia is responsible for, the Mi’kmaq would be consulted first.

“We consult with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia through the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Consultation Terms of Reference signed in 2010,” said Levy MacLeod.

“This agreement lays out a consultation process for government to follow when making decisions that could impact asserted Mi’kmaq aboriginal and treaty rights. The process involves regular communication and meetings between government regulators and representatives of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.”

For his part, Hawke, who has a cottage near the area where the ceremony took place, was asked by reporters what difference he thought his presence at the ceremony made.

“It’s just an opportunity to talk about” potential oil exploration in the Gulf, said Hawke.

“To actually get together and say a water ceremony is important. Your being here and all the people standing on the hill in the cold. Everybody does value the land so much, we just don’t know what to do about it. I was invited to be a part of this, so I take it seriously.”

Source: Chronicle Herald

Share Button

Ethan Hawke special guest at native water ceremony in Nova Scotia ~ Canadian Press

October 26th, 2015
Actor Ethan Hawke, right, attends the Mi'kmaq community's water ceremony on the shores of Pomquet Harbour to support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near Antigonish, N.S. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Actor Ethan Hawke, right, attends the Mi’kmaq community’s water ceremony on the shores of Pomquet Harbour to support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near Antigonish, N.S.
(Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By: Keith Doucette

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — The Canadian Press

Published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 5:03PM EDT

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke has added his star power to efforts by environmentalists and a Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq community who are trying to muster support for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke was the special guest of the Mi’kmaq community’s annual water ceremony held Monday in Pomquet Harbour near Antigonish.

Hawke, who owns land in nearby St. George’s Bay, was asked to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

The actor said he wanted to stand up for “an absolutely magical place” where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.

“I’m sure some people are wondering what I’m doing here,” said Hawke. “I’m largely here as your neighbour and your friend and a friend to this area.”

Hawke said the native community members have proven to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event.

The ceremony involved prayers and offerings by Mi’kmaq elders as the sound of traditional drums and the smell of burning sweetgrass filled the air.

Held each season, it honours the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.

Hawke said he’s glad his celebrity drew media to cover the event. But he also downplayed his participation.

“I know the real difference will be made in other rooms,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to talk about it. I was invited to be a part of this so I take it seriously.”

The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf. They say it will take that long to complete a proper and comprehensive environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.

“While Canada’s thinking about drilling out there . . . we are telling them that they can’t do it without talking to the Mi’kmaq,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

Jerome said with a new Liberal government about to take power in Ottawa Canadians need to ask their MPs what they are doing about the gulf.

“Ethan Hawke is here doing something about the gulf, what are you (MPs) doing about the gulf?” he said.

Jerome told a news conference that Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species.

The area is home to endangered whales and is also home to a lucrative lobster fishery.

Source: Globe and Mail

Additional Canadian Press coverage appeared in the PEI Guardian

Share Button

Ethan Hawke special guest at native water ceremony in Nova Scotia ~ Western Star

October 26th, 2015

October 26, 2015

ANTIGONISH, N.S. – Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke was the special guest as a Mi’kmaq community in northeastern Nova Scotia held a water ceremony to support a call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay near Antigonish, was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

The actor says he took part as a friend to an area where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.

Hawke says the native community have proven themselves to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event.

The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf.

They say it will take that long to complete a proper environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.

Source: The Western Star

Share Button

Value of water highlighted during Mi’kmaq ceremony in Stephenville, NL ~ Western Star

October 26th, 2015

Frank Gale/The Western Star
October 26, 2015

Mi’kmaq woman Arlene Blanchard-White officiated a water ceremony Monday afternoon in Stephenville, NL (Western Star)

Mi’kmaq woman Arlene Blanchard-White officiated a water ceremony Monday afternoon in Stephenville, NL (Western Star)

Local Mi’kmaq First Nation people, along with others other concerned about the environment, gathered Monday at Stephenville Beach for a ceremony to protect the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Water sustains life, and protecting it is not only a native duty, but also a human responsibility, explained Arlene Blanchard-White in officiating the ceremony.

The water ceremony is held each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’Kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land and their resources.
In the Mi’kmaq culture, women are the keepers of the water and that’s why four women carried out the ceremony Monday. It involved the mixing of rain, well, river and ocean waters and pouring them into St. George’s Bay.

NL Water Ceremony 2

The local Mi’kmaq didn’t carry out these ceremonies in isolation, as simultaneous events were held by the Mi’kmaq people of Paq’tnkek First Nation, Gepse’gewe’gi, Gespeg and Listuguj, who made a statement in Antigonish, N.S. The statement outlined the significance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to both Nations and called for immediate action to protect the body of water.

Leadership of the Innu and Mi’kmaq of Gespe’gwa’gi formed a coalition in October 2013 to work together with the intent to speak as one voice to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential hydrocarbon exploration.

Brycen Young, an active Mi’kmaq youth, was impressed with the ceremony, which drew just over 50 people.

“It’s important to us as Mi’kmaq people and to all humans to come out and give thanks to the water and try to protect it,” he said.

Blain Ford, who made the trip from Benoit’s Cove to participate, said as a Mi’kmaq people they take a lot of pride, honour and respect to Mother Earth and our water because if it wasn’t for the water, Mother Earth and its people would not exist.

Source: Western Star

Share Button

Ethan Hawke heading to Nova Scotia for native water ceremony ~ MetroNews

October 25th, 2015

By: Ben Cousins
The Canadian Press
Published on Sun Oct 25 2015

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke will be in northern Nova Scotia Monday to help with the Mi’kmaq community’s water ceremony and support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

“We trying to show the world that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is not available for oil exploration,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “It’s a race to get oil as opposed to a race protect the environment.”

“When you look at the state of the environment and climate change, I think we should be racing to protect the land where we can.”

The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land.

For two years now, the group has been saying there should be a 12-year moratorium to give time to conduct a proper study by a third-party that looks at the Gulf as a whole ecosystem.

Jerome says up until now, studies have only been done by individual provinces.

“The oil is not going to know which side of the border to stop its spill at,” he said. “It’s going to go all over the place.”

“Our salmon do not follow a provincial boundary, they go right through the channel.”

Jerome says officials told him when you combine the provincial studies together, they achieve a comprehensive study for the area.

“For us, that flies in the face of good science.”

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species choosing to spawn, nurse and migrate there year round.

It is also home to endangered whales and hosts some of the largest lobster production in the world.

The Mi’kmaq say the area is a sensitive ecosystem due to its winter ice cover, high winds and counter clockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year.

Jerome says Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.

He says the tourism and fishing industries in the area are obviously concerned, but outside of that, not a whole lot of people really know about what’s going on.

“We want to get people in the Atlantic to become more aware that these kinds of drilling programs are proposed in their water.”

The venue for the water ceremony in Antigonish is also of historical significance.

The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision.

In 1993, Donald Marshall Jr., a member of the Membertou First Nation, was stopped for fishing in Antigonish County, N.S., for fishing eels without a license.

He claimed he was allowed to catch and sell fish by virtue of a treaty signed with the British Crown.

Six years later, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed Donald Marshall Jr. had a treaty right to catch and sell fish, thus changing the way First Nations people could hunt and catch in Canada.

Source: Metronews.ca

Share Button

Ethan Hawke to help Mi’kmaq oppose Gulf of St. Lawrence oil exploration ~ CBC

October 23rd, 2015

First Nations from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec holding event on Monday
By Elizabeth McMillan,
CBC News
Posted: Oct 23, 2015

(Leonard Adam/Getty Images)

(Leonard Adam/Getty Images)

Actor Ethan Hawke will be lending some of his star power to First Nations groups in eastern Canada that oppose oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The leadership of the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations will be holding a joint press conference and water ceremony Monday by the coast at 577 Summerside Road in Afton, which is in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia.

Hawke will be a special guest and is scheduled to answer questions following a press conference. The four-time Oscar nominee who is known for films such as Training Day, Dead Poets Society and Boyhood has property in the area.

Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, says First Nations groups and organizations like the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition have been working to raise awareness for years and a big name like Hawke’s can bring new attention to their concerns.

Potential oil not going anywhere

The group is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review.

“The public should be saying the same thing the Mi’kmaq, the aboriginal people, are saying. Show us a study before you think about drilling in there,” he said.

“It’s unproven, but even if there’s oil there, it’s not disappearing.”

Jerome says people who live in the region — which includes the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec — haven’t been adequately consulted, but also haven’t been that engaged.

He hopes Hawke’s profile will encourage the public to push for more information about how drilling and any potential blowouts could affect the area.

“If there’s an oil spill it’s going to go on the shores of Newfoundland, by some spill scenarios, up all the way up the St. Lawrence River. No one really knows,” he said.

Coming on the heels of the recent federal election, Jerome hopes the event sends a message to industry and the new federal government.

“By having his (Ethan Hawke’s) presence, it raises a level of exposure to another level,” he said. “The timing turned out to be very good.”

‘Chronically’ under radar

Mary Gorman of the Save our Seas and Shore Coalition says tens of thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries could be impacted by offshore drilling.

“We have been fighting this battle before Keystone, before Northern Gateway, before Energy East. All of these battles have taken precedence over our battle,” she said.

“There will be oil on the coast of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland if our politicians are foolish enough to let this proceed. And yet we chronically fall under the radar. And that’s why Ethan is helping us.”

​Hawke has voiced concerns about the environmental risks of offshore drilling before.

In 2011, he released a statement with the David Suzuki Foundation and the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition in a campaign calling for the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the gulf.

The site of Monday’s ceremony is close to where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for fishing eels out of season, which led to a landmark 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that guaranteed aboriginal treaty rights to fish and hunt.

Paqtnkek councilllor Darlene Prosper says Monday’s events will begin with a water ceremony scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Source: CBC News

Share Button

Ethan Hawke, Mi’kmaq to oppose oil, gas exploration in Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ Chronicle Herald

October 22nd, 2015

TOM AYERS Cape Breton Bureau
Published October 22, 2015 – 11:28am

Oscar-nominated actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is expected to attend a Mi’kmaq water ceremony on Monday at Paq’tnkek First Nation to support an aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“Ethan Hawke has some land in that area down there,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

“That’s why we were able to convince him to come out and do something with us, because he knows the area right there and he knows about the issue with the Gulf.”

Paq’tnkek Chief Paul (PJ) Prosper will host the secretariat — a group representing three First Nation communities along the Gaspe peninsula — along with Nova Scotia supporters and Innu and Maliseet from around the Gulf, at the ceremony at 1 p.m. on Summerside Road in Afton, Antigonish County.

That is near the site where the late Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for eel fishing, an affair that ended with a Supreme Court decision in his name that confirmed the aboriginal right to fish.

This week, Shell Canada received approval to begin exploratory drilling off the southwest shore of Nova Scotia, while Corridor Resources, a Halifax junior exploration company, still has an interest in oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Aboriginals aren’t opposed to all petroleum exploration and drilling, said Jerome, but the waters of the Gulf need to be protected to ensure the aboriginal right to fish is not harmed.

Also, the entire region’s economy depends on fishing and tourism, which would be threatened by oil and gas development, he said.

“The Gulf is a very unique ecosystem, as opposed to other bodies of water, so I think there’s a hook there to say that (exploration) could happen in other areas, but in the Gulf, if there is some kind of accident out there, it’s going to devastate the whole economy, right from Halifax all the way to Gaspe and Newfoundland.”

The secretariat is backing a call made last year by Mi’kmaq chiefs and others for a 12-year moratorium on exploration in the Gulf and asking government regulators to commission an independent study of the entire Gulf region, instead of requiring companies to conduct limited studies within a smaller radius from potential exploration sites.

It is also hoping to raise awareness of the issues in the Gulf, where the counterclockwise current could carry pollutants around the shores of the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec, said Jerome, and sea ice in winter could make any cleanup difficult.

And at least three provincial regulatory bodies cover oil and gas development in the Gulf.

“We see this whole Gulf exploration happening under a shroud,” said Jerome. “They’re doing it in public, but the public doesn’t know that they could have a say about what’s happening.

“No one’s drilling right now, and we’re trying to make sure that no drilling occurs. The Mi’kmaq proposed a 12-year moratorium and people came back and said, ‘Why a 12-year moratorium?’

“For us, it’s quite clear that the Gulf is one large ecosystem, and you cannot study it by going to the Newfoundland portion and studying that, going to Quebec and studying that portion, and studying the Nova Scotia portion.”

Source: Chronicle Herald

Share Button

Ethan Hawke guest at event to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ The News

October 22nd, 2015

The News
October 22, 2015

Actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is lending his voice to the efforts to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from off shore petroleum exploration.

Hawke, who owns property in Tracadie, Nova Scotia, is going to be a guest at a water ceremony and press conference where the Chiefs of the Paq’tnkek First Nation and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi (Gesgapegiag, Gespeg and Listuguj) as they make an important statement on Monday that outlines the significance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to both Nations and calls for immediate actions to Protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Mary Gorman, of Pictou County, has been a long time activist for the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition and said this event is significant.

“We’re very grateful to the Mi’gmaq elders chiefs and their councils for protecting the gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas development,” Gorman said. “We never would have been able to keep the oil industry out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the past 17 years without the Mi’gmaq leadership.

She said it’s great to have the support of Hawke who is coming on his dime to the event.

This venue for the conference is of historical significance. The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision which gives aboriginal people the right to make a living from fishing and hunting as based on early treaties between the British and Aboriginal people.

It’s because of that right that the aboriginal community believes they should be heavily involved in consultation about projects that could impact the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Troy Jerome of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat said they are concerned because there are off shore petroleum boards that are being organized with the intention of looking at drilling off shore.

“This could totally disrupt our way of life,” he said. “We need to be consulted.”

He said they want to know what kind of effects the drilling could have. He also believes that more people throughout the Atlantic provinces need to know what’s going on.

“We think this kind of event and having a big name like Ethan Hawke could raise awareness,” he said.

The event will take place on Monday at 1 p.m. at 577 Summerside Road, Antigonish.

The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’gmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.

The press conference will draw attention to the threat to the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence posed by offshore oil and gas development.

The Leadership of the Innu and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gwa’gi formed a coalition in October 2013 to work together to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This coalition was formed with the intent to speak with one voice to protect the Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential hydrocarbon exploration.

Source: The News

Share Button

Fishing Industry Raises Concerns over Oil and Gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

July 21st, 2015

Press Release, July 21/2015

In a powerful show of unity, First Nation communities and fishing industry representatives call on the Federal Ministers of Natural Resources, Environment, and Fisheries to suspend petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence until it can determine that these activities would pose no risk to commercial fisheries.

The Gulf’s Aboriginal Communities, Harvester, and Processor Associations, call on the federal government to hear public concerns and evaluate the risks of drilling in a semi- enclosed body of water that supports hundreds of coastal communities in 5 provinces.

“The government is ignoring that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is partially landlocked and one of the most sensitive and productive marine breeding regions in Canada with over 2,200 marine species that spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Due to the sensitive nature of the St. Lawrence it unlikely that a billion dollar fishing industry could withstand oil and gas development,” says Marilyn Clark, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.  Although Strategic Environmental assessment (SEA) have been undertaken by both Newfoundland and Quebec, these inadequate assessments failed to look at the Gulf as a whole, she said.

“We know there is very little capacity to respond to an oil spill due to high winds and counter clockwise currents that only empty into the Atlantic once a year, leaving NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL coastlines vulnerable to contamination. Despite this, the environmental assessment process has been downgraded to allow companies to drill exploratory wells without consulting people depending on these waters for their livelihoods,” states fisherman Leonard Leblanc of Cheticamp, Nova Scotia.

Spill simulations undertaken by the Rimouski Institute of Ocean Science demonstrate that fish and plankton critical to the Gulf’s food chain would have to migrate through oil at both the Laurentian Channel and Straight of Belle Isle, which are entry and exit regions critical to the Gulf’s entire eco-system.

Even Corridor Resources, who wants to drill at Old Harry, acknowledge in their EA report that: “There are environmental and technological constraints to response and cleanup. High sea states and visibility are examples of typical environmental constraints, while technological constraints include pumping capacity of oil recovery devices and effectiveness of chemical dispersants.” Furthermore, several months of ice coverage in the winter escalate these important limitations.

Nearly two years ago, First Nations formed the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance and signed an agreement to protect the Gulf from Oil and Gas Development. They have recently renewed this commitment and reiterated their request for a 12 year Moratorium.

To date, they have yet to be consulted on the Old Harry project.

“Quebec’s Environment Assessment (SEA) detailed many gaps in knowledge and understanding of the Gulf of St Lawrence.  We have existing Aboriginal rights and constitutionally protected Treaty Rights as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. We will do all that is necessary to protect our way of life and prevent any exploratory plan to be carried out in the Gulf,” explains Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

In the event of a spill, Canadian law demands a company to have a measly 1 billion dollars of compensation monies. This is deeply inadequate when you consider that Gulf fisheries are worth more than one billion each year. Investments in boats, licenses, and fish plants dependent on renewable resources for their operations are worth far more than these proposed damages. The BP Macondo disaster cost BP over $40 billion dollars so far and could cost the company over $60billion due to ongoing litigation.

“How do you quantify damages to living species that have been around for thousands of years if you are not even taking into account ecological value?” asks Clark. “In short, the Gulf of St. Lawrence fishing industry will accept no less than a full, independent expert review panel, acting in the 5 provinces, as is warranted by public concerns in section 38 (2) b of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act”, she concludes.

For further information contact:

Marilyn Clark 902.774.0006 (French/English)
Director Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association

Troy Jerome 506.759.2000 (French/English)
Executive Director
Nutewistoq, Mi’gmawei, Mawiomi Secretariat

Leonard LeBlanc 902-302-0794 (French/English)
Gulf Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Coalition

Ian MacPherson 902-566-4050 (English)
PEI Fishermen’s Association

Jean-Pierre Couillard 418-269-7701 (French)
Association des Capitaines Propriétaire de la Gaspésie

Share Button